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    New Engaging STARZ Drama Vida Chronicles the Lives of Three Latinx Women

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    In the fabulous new TV show Vida, debuting May 6 on STARZ, two estranged sisters, the sexpot Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and the uptight Emma (Mishel Prada), are reunited when their mother passes. They soon discover mom had a “roommate,” Eddy (the gender non-binary Ser Anzoategui). They also discover that the women were more than just roommates—Eddy and Vida were married.

    Vida, which is both the name of Lyn and Emma’s mother as well as the Spanish word for “lifetime,” shows how these three very different Latinx women cope emotionally, financially and sexually after the death of the matriarch. Lyn, Emma and Eddy each inherit a third of the bar Vida owned, and the sisters consider selling the LGBTQ neighborhood space to pay off mounting debt. How the relationship between these three Latinx characters unfolds forms the basis of this engaging drama.

    In a recent phone interview, Ser Anzoategui chatted with me for the San Francisco Bay Times about Vida.

    Gary M. Kramer: How did you connect with Eddy?

    Ser Anzoategui: I connected instantly with Eddy. I could understand Eddy’s suffering and her love and the need to connect. We have that need to bring people together in common. I also knew the area and personalities through my lived experience.

    Gary M. Kramer: What do you think Vida can do for Latinx queer representation and visibility?

    Ser Anzoategui: Eddy finds a home in the bar and by creating a safe space. Eddy would take people in and provide a sense of love that they didn’t have. Eddy gives back because of her privilege in this physical space. And it’s important that there are generations—older immigrant men go there. It’s a community. The show asks: How do the characters all live together?

    Gary M. Kramer: Eddy has a minor meltdown in the first episode and gets into a bar fight. Have you been in a bar fight?

    Ser Anzoategui: [Laughs] No.

    Gary M. Kramer: Family is at the heart of Vida. As a queer Latinx, what observations do you have about family?

    Ser Anzoategui: I don’t want to talk about that; I’ll start to cry [Ser changes the subject]. It’s about property—whose got the rights? There are supposed to be three equal shares, but because of how it is—the resentment [the sisters have toward Eddy]—the sisters feel they have more rights, automatically. It’s important to show that. Each character has different experiences of gender, sexual orientation and identification. There is a lot of machismo/a in the Latina community. Women contribute to it, too. The show is a reflection—this is real. Sometimes we’re machisma and racist. Vida reflects it back.

    Gary M. Kramer: Eddy impresses Lyn by cooking. What can you say about the magic of flan?

    Ser Anzoategui: Flan can make any heart melt. One spoon … . You can get to the heart through the stomach. It’s how Eddy softens up Emma. I grew up with my mom being a flan queen. But there are other kinds of flan, so on set, I was like, “Wait! I’ve got to explore all of these different kinds in the show.”

    Gary M. Kramer: Two episodes of the series are directed by the great Latina lesbian filmmaker Rose Troche. What can you say about working with her and her vision for the show?

    Ser Anzoategui: Holy Flan! Working with Rose Troche—she’s ahead of her time in her execution as a director and what stories are important and how to tell them and ways of shooting them. It was beautiful to watch her work. As an actor, watching her solve problems was so cool. What you see in her head and the choices she makes … . She has all of this experience and shoots with non-traditional storytelling. She’s directing the sex scenes, well, that’s exciting—I know it’s a sex scene—but it’s done well by a Latina queer woman!

    Gary M. Kramer: What are your beliefs regarding religion and ritual? Eddy feels strongly about both.

    Ser Anzoategui: Ritual is important to Eddy. It’s a survival thing. It keeps Eddy thriving and it’s healing, even though it’s done in non-traditional ways. I think that Eddy does it in different ways—heal through food, and this unwavering love, and being a pillar in the community. Eddy has faith—even though religion can reject the queer community—but there is an acceptance. Eddy is spiritual, and intuitive, and communicates to Vida.

    Gary M. Kramer: In one of my favorite scenes, Eddy smokes a cigar. Are you a cigar smoker?

    Ser Anzoategui: No. I watched a video to see how to look like I’ve done this for a while. They gave me a natural cigar. It was spicy and itchy. I had to scrape my tongue after every take! It was disgusting. I needed a real one. I couldn’t eat for the rest of the night!

    © 2018 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer